History and Memory: What's the Link?
Group members: Keely Ash, Nina Rao, Ayman Manasia
Date: March 28th-April 5th
AOK Badge: History
The question our group chose was “What is the relationship between history and memory? Some problems raised by the question would be how accurate history is depending on the memories that created it as history. Another is if memory can be easily forgotten or skewed, then can’t history also be the same way? Our point that we want to make is that history and memory are both interconnected indefinitely, and that it is difficult to have history without memory, or vice versa. We don’t have a complete plan yet, but we want to explain the information using thorough research, perhaps through the means of a powerpoint.
We decided to have the point of how history and memory are both strongly interconnected, and wanted to focus on the evidence and examples of the Maya Lin memorial and perhaps the Slocum Massacre. I knew about the Vietnam memorial beforehand of course, but learning about such topics in relation to history and memory both wasn’t something I had done before. I learned a lot about how memory is basically just your own micro-history, and history is based on the memory of events that happened. The relation of the two is inseparable.
Our main point we want to prove is that history relies on memory and vice versa. You can’t have one without the other, and both of them work in tandem to create humanity as we know it today. My goal is to illustrate this point by comparing the two topics. While this is a way of knowing and area of knowledge, both of the two topics are related indefinitely, and that is what I want to prove. If people hear our presentation and then agree that they work together, then our goal would be reached.
“What is the relationship between history and memory?”. History relies on memory because it strongly depends on the memories of people who were in the situation.
We just finished our presentation and we needed to do more to connect memory and history. I think we need to work more on connecting them with the example we provided - the Slocum massacre. The event was very intense and it was hard to separate defining it and connecting it. I think we did very well on explaining the situation, but when it came to actually connecting it we weren’t sure how to do that. We’ll have to redo it later, but I think we can come up for a better connection for that.
The article I read for the elective reading was called "Texas Matters: The Slocum Massacre - An Update". Our group ended up using this piece as evidence for our project. It related quite a lot without topic of memory and history, as it was something that was completely erased from most sources in Texas. "The Slocum Massacre – the newspaper accounts – when you put them all together and read every one of them – they differ on everything that happened.” This quote illustrates that history can all be varied depending on who said it. While the memories and stories of the people involved provided the most accurate retelling of the truth. It shows that the most accurate history and memory was strongly linked together, at least in this particular case
For my extension proposal, I wanted to add another article about the Slocum Massacre, as it was integral to our project. https://zinnedproject.org/2014/07/slocum-massacre/ was a great and organized article about the events and aftermath of the terrible period. I like how it has a section to purely talk about the trial. The quote "The community reflects effects of the event to this day. While most nearby towns have African American populations of 20 percent or more, Slocum’s is just under 7 percent." deeply upsets me. It allows one to realize just how deep the wound of this massacre affected people emotionally in generations after the events happened.
We have a general idea for our redo. Like I mentioned in my last journal entry, we know that we have to focus on the point and connection of our real life example and our knowledge question. We didn’t develop our points that much last time, but now our presentation will be focused on that. We also plan to add additional knowledge questions to help explain the connection between the evidence and AOK point. These questions will work very well in embellishing the connection of the project.
Our redo went pretty well. Half of our group was missing, so it was mainly just Keely and I redoing and representing the project. It went better than last time, because we took a more streamlined approach. Our question was a lot more focused this time, and we tried to incorporate the method that is often used for the actual TOK presentation at the end of the year. Our example and evidence had much more relevant connections to our topic, and we strayed away from our knowledge question less. We learned the true relationship of history and memory - that there is not just one link. They can be highly interconnected, or completely separate. They have a messy connection, as history and memories are constantly evolving. The truth is, there is not just one connection between the two ideas.
Questions: To what extent does history rely on evidence/memory? This is particularly connected to our presentation, as it is a main connection between history and memory. History can greatly rely on the memories of people, which is why oral history is so prominent in the world today. This question is trying to identify if history's main connection with memory is that it relies on it, which was one of the chief questions brought up when we started our project.
How reliable is oral history? Oral history is a defining section of history today. However, it is completely based on the memories of people involved. Oral history is defined as "the collection and study of historical information using sound recordings of interviews with people having personal knowledge of past events". This means that it has to rely on memories of the people involved. Oral history could not exist without the memories of the people involved in a situation, and yet it makes up so much of what we know of the world today. The issue with it is, since it relies on memories (which are not always reliable), how reliable can oral history be?
Can history be erased depending on the memories of people involved? This is a huge part of our project, and especially relates to our example - the Slocum Massacre. Many of the people involved were killed. The white men who instigated the massacre would not talk about the events that occurred, choosing to keep it under wraps, or at least misconstrued. One of the main reasons it was even a part of discussion is because of interviews of those affected by the situation. This is another part of oral history, which all comes back to how the memories of people involved helped shape history in such a way to unearth such a hidden massacre.